Lindsay Griffiths really does it all. She is the Executive Director of the International Lawyers Network, author of Zen & the Art of Legal Networking blog, host of multiple podcasts and, on top of all that, a photographer with the time left over. In sitting down—virtually, of course—with Bob Ambrogi for This Week in Legal Blogging, she shared her insights on all of it.
Here’s the full episode and, down below, we have a selection of the best exchanges.
Apart from your podcasts, your photography, your blogging, you actually have a day job, which is executive director of the International Lawyers Network. If you could just kind of tell us—what is the International Lawyers Network and what’s your role there?
The International Lawyer’s Network is an association of mid-sized law firms. We have law firms in 67 countries on six continents, about 91 law firms. It’s been in existence for 32 years, and generally the idea is that when most law firm networks were founded, and still true today, were that law firms that wanted to be able to assist their clients in cross-border matters without either opening an office overseas or in another jurisdiction, or merging with a larger law firm, and they needed these trusted relationships.
And so, networks like ours came together in order to give them the ability to have those trusted relationships without having to do that due diligence themselves. We were founded in 1988, and over the period of the last 32 years, we’ve really grown into this wonderful association of law firms that we are today. So, for the past fifteen years, up until this year, I was the Director of Global Relationship Management, and I managed the relationships in a number of different ways. And then when our Executive Director retired at the end of last year, I took over the role.
When you started the blog, what was it that you wanted to do? Why did you set down that path?
Originally, I thought that it didn’t make sense for me to blog. And I didn’t think I had anything to say. But I started on Twitter first and I realized that when I would respond to things that people were saying or questions that people had that I had much more to say than 140 characters at that time permitted me to answer…I started to realize that maybe I did have something to say and I did have a viewpoint that felt valuable and I could interact on a larger platform.
So, that was what prompted my first blog post, and I started to blog a little bit more regularly, and I realized that I could start to interact with more people through the blog and tagging them in there and having conversations. And it made me more thoughtful about the ideas that were happening in the industry, not just things that were relevant to my business, which is obviously my number one goal always, you know staying on top of industry trends for what’s relevant to the ILN—but also just being thoughtful in general about what’s happening in the legal industry and how I might have an impact and how it might impact others. So that’s really how I got started and why I got started and it really grew from there.
If somebody, say a legal professional, were to come up to you and say “I’m thinking of starting either a blog or a podcast, which should I do?”, what would be your advice?
I would ask them to think first about what their goals are and who their audience is and figure out first of all where their audiences is, what they’re most likely to do and engage with, and once they know the answers to those things, that will inform their decision.
What if they say “I want to do both, which should I do first?”
In that case it probably depends on whether or not they’re a stronger writer or speaker. For me, I’ve always been a stronger writer. It took me a very long time to get comfortable with public speaking, and a lot of that is because our…retired director would push me to do presentations for our lawyers at every one of our conferences.
So, you know, 15 years of doing presentations, 15 years of regularly engaging with marketing professionals, legal industry professionals has given me much more confidence in speaking, that allowed me to translate what I do in my blog to podcasting…I think you definitely want to start with one instead of doing both at the same time; that can be a bit intimidating.
They are both a lot of work if you want to kick them off properly.
Do you have any thoughts on how to focus your blog? I’ve talked to lawyers in particular, legal professionals more broadly but lawyers in particular who just feel really intimidated about coming up with a topic for the blog. Do you have any thoughts on how to refine that or think that through?
One, if you’re going to do it for any amount of time it has to be something you’re passionate about because there are days that you’re not going to feel like doing it. So it’s if it’s something that you’re sort of wishy-washy about, just abandon that thought immediately.
I know we have one lawyer the blog for us on our ILN intellectual property blog, and that’s not his primary area of law but it’s an area of the law that he’s passionate about and every one of his blog posts is so intense and it’s so passionate and it’s so wonderful and you can tell that he just loves this area of the law. And so, that’s the kind of thing you want to look for.
That, and where is it you might want to be finding more clients or where are your favorite clients? If you know that your favorite clients come from a specific industry or a specific type of law, do more of that type of writing. That, I think, is really important. Because on the days where you don’t really feel like doing it, when you’re going to have to get up early to write or stay up late to write, there’s going to have to be a reason. You have to figure out what your “why” is. And so I think figuring that out early on is important.
And you can talk to those clients too, you know, what are the things they want to hear about? What are the things that are keeping them up at night? Identify what those pinpoints are. All of us do this, not just lawyers, we all assume we know what they are. You don’t ask, you don’t always know the answers.
And also collaborating sometimes will help too, so when you’re struggling, collaborating with someone you regularly work with and trust and respect on a blog post will really help move you forward and break some of that down.
I there anything else you want to mention about your blogging or about your podcasting or your work otherwise?
I would just say that if it’s something that you’re thinking about doing, people should feel encouraged to do it. As I said before, have a good understanding of what your “why” is, but don’t be afraid to find your voice, get out there and do it. As I said earlier, I can’t under-emphasize the impact that it’s had on my personal and professional life in a really wonderful way.
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